A black five burner induction cooktop with touchpad controls installed in a countertop.

Many people in the United States are familiar with gas and electric cooktops, but not as many are aware that there’s a third option available. Though popular in Europe for decades, induction cooktops have recently become more popular in the United States as people seek out more energy efficient cooking options. If you’re curious about induction cooking, our guide can help you learn more about this unique cooktop technology and decide if it’s right for you.

A black induction cooktop with stainless steel trim.

How do induction cooktops work?

  • An induction cooktop is a type of electric cooktop that uses electromagnetism to heat cookware, essentially turning the cookware into its own source of heat.
  • Because these cooktops heat cookware with electromagnetism, the system is highly efficient, allowing for a rapid rise or drop in temperature. This often leads to faster cooking, especially in pots – water will usually come to a boil much faster on most induction cooktops.

What are the Benefits of Induction Cooking?

Induction cooktops have a number of benefits over electric and gas cooktops, including:

 

A close up image of an induction cooktop burner.

1. Improved temperature control and cooking results

Induction cooking relies on a current that creates an electromagnetic field. Raising or lowering the temperature on an induction cooktop results in a higher or lower charge. This, in turn, means that you can adjust the temperature more quickly than on an electric or gas cooktop.

A close up image of an induction cooktop control pad.

2. Faster heating and cooking of foods

According to the Department of Energy1, induction cooktops can be up to 85 percent efficient in energy transfer – in other words, 85 percent of the energy arrives directly to the cookware, creating a highly efficient system. As a result, improved efficiency generally leads to faster cooking times.

A person wipes the surface of an induction cooktop with a cloth.

3. Easier cleaning

Induction cooktops also shine when it comes to cleanability. While it may seem strange, induction cooking doesn’t heat the cooktop itself. This means that spilled food, boiled-over pots, grease splatters and other common messes are less likely to get burned onto the cooktop surface and can be wiped up quickly once cooking is done. Ambient heat from your cookware may heat up your induction cooktop, so it’s important to wait for the surface to cool before cleaning.

Pots and pans sit on an induction cooktop next to ingredients and cooking equipment on a countertop.

Is Cooking Different on an Induction Cooktop? What Can I Expect?

There may be an initial learning curve with induction cooking – because the cookware heats up more quickly, you may find that total cook time is reduced. Be sure to monitor your food to avoid overcooking. Another aspect of induction cooking that sets it apart from traditional counterparts is the use of power levels. Induction cooktops can have multiple power levels, which allows you to use the perfect amount of heat for simmering, boiling and other cooking techniques.

Does Induction Cooking Require Different Cookware?

 

Another consideration is the type of cookware you use. Cookware for induction must be conductive – that is, it must be responsive to electromagnetism in order to work. Fans of cast iron or stainless steel can use their pots and pans on an induction cooktop right away. However, items made of copper, aluminum, glass or ceramic are not suitable for induction cooktops.

A black induction cooktop installed in a white countertop.

Are Induction Cooktops Easy to Install? Can I Replace My Current Cooktop With an Induction Model?

Induction cooktops may need to be installed by a professional, depending on the electrical wiring and power supply in your home. Since induction cooktops may require a specialized outlet or new wiring, be sure to talk to an electrician or contractor if you’re looking to replace your current cooktop with an induction model.

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1) Energy.gov, last visited Oct 17, 2019.